Uncharted - Soulless Adaptation Blueprint

Let's explore how Uncharted represents everything wrong with current Hollywood.

Jiří Stacho

5/31/20236 min read

Uncharted is a soulless, uninspired amalgam of clichés and tired tropes. The casting is atrocious, the script and direction are both lacking. The cinematography is uninspired and the action sequences are generic and lack any real thrills. The story is full of plot holes and contrivances, and the characters are one-dimensional and uninteresting. That being said, it is not one of the worst movies ever made. It’s, in my view, much worse than that. Truly bad movies are at least memorable because some aspects in them are just hilariously bad. Think of Samurai Cop or The Room. Uncharted is much worse because it’s a prime example of unbelievable laziness, pretentiousness and shallowness of Hollywood. Hollywood has pretty much always been a moral wasteland but in the last decade or so it became a creativity wasteland as well.

Think of how easy would it be to make a fun adventure Uncharted movie. There are 4 games which tell us the entire Nathan Drake story. And they tell the story incredibly well. The games have exciting action, full-fledged characters, and great, believable dialogues. The most popular game seems to be Uncharted 4: Thief’s End but my absolute favourite is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The believable, fun, and snappy dialogue. The fantastic addition of Chloe Frazer. The love triangle between Nathan, Elena, and Chloe is one of the best written ones I’ve seen. Love triangles are usually annoying and crappy but Uncharted 2 shows exactly how love triangles should be handled. The backstory with Nathan, Chloe, and Flynn is also interesting and fun.

If I were to rank the games I put Uncharted 2: Among Thieves at the top – the game is exactly what I want from a good character driven game.

2nd place is Uncharted 1: Drake’s Fortune as a perfectly uncomplicated, light-hearted, and fun game which introduces the main characters perfectly.

Uncharted 3 and 4 honestly blend together a bit and I had to go back and play them again to differentiate between them. Don’t get me wrong, they are solid games that keep the dialogues sharp, the story moving and are staying true to the characters we love. But the last two games are, at least for me, less entertaining than the first two. What I particularly appreciate about the third game is the dynamic between Nathan and Sully and the flashbacks to how they met for the first time. Uncharted 4 largely focuses on Nathan’s brother Sam and the Drake family as a whole. Now, the story is written very well, the gameplay is fluent but I’m not a huge fan of long lost brothers or returning mothers or any of these tropes. That’s not a fault of this game, just my pet peeve, I guess. Kudos to the creators for not writing Nathan and Elena’s daughter as an insufferable know-it-all brat like others tend to. Overall, it’s a good, well-deserved last chapter to conclude the Nathan Drake story.

So if it is just laziness that’s behind this movie, I don’t get it, frankly. Wouldn’t it be pretty easy and convenient, given the apparent lack of desire to create anything even remotely original in Hollywood, to just pick one of the stories from the games and transform it a bit to adjust it for screenplay? While I know that games and movies are different, it’s easier to transform a good story from a game to a screenplay rather than start from scratch. So what is truly the reason why these kinds of unimaginative, immediately forgettable movies are constantly being made? Why does the CGI look so horrific? How in the world is it possible that the games, which are of course fake, look so much more realistic than the movies? This is an unbelievable level of incompetence. Also, what happened to real, impressive stunts? Thank god we have the legend Tom Cruise to keep Hollywood afloat.

This movie fails to capture the spirit of the video games entirely. You know how in the game Nathan’s brother dies right in front of him and you can feel the heavy impact it had on Nathan. It’s so powerful while in the movie Wahlberg just tells Holland how his brother died. Why? There’s absolutely no impact, it doesn’t add anything to the story. It’s just there to kill time.

The casting is very peculiar. Tom Holland was cast because of the success of Spider-Man. He appears to be bankable so what if he doesn’t have any resemblance of the character he is supposed to play, right? He is short and despite his age still looks like a child, not a man. Holland is a likeable actor but he’s just so generic and polished. He needs to get his hands on a real script once to truly show his capabilities.

Mark Wahlberg as Sully is a very strange miscast. A decade ago, Wahlberg could possibly play Nathan Drake, although I think he lacks the charisma and charm of the character. Nevertheless, he would definitely be a better choice than Holland. However, it’s not a decade ago and Wahlberg got way too old to play Nathan and way too young to play Sully. So he’s in this middle ground where he can’t accurately portray either of the characters. The movie seems to be confused about him as well. Wahlberg – I can’t call him Sully, makes a remark how old he is and right after that he’s this muscle guy. So what is it, movie?

I’m not even gonna talk about the villain played by Antonio Banderas because there’s nothing to say.

Many were disappointed by the absence of Elena Fisher. I wasn’t. Firstly, they would surely botched the character like all the rest of them and secondly, while Elena is an integral part of the games story arc and serves as anchor to Nathan, this is more of an origin story so it makes sense they don’t introduce Elena this early on in the story.

And as I’ve already mentioned how much I love Uncharted 2 and the character of Chloe Frazer, you can guess what I think about the movie version played by Sophia Ali. In my eyes, Chloe Frazer to Nathan is like Selina Kyle to Bruce Wayne. Their dynamic is highly energetic, fun, and passionate and even intense when needed. The movie version has no spark whatsoever.

Oh, and apparently all the characters know each other. Sully knows Nathan’s brother Sam and Chloe, Chloe knows both of them as well. Everyone knows everything except our lost puppy Nathan.

Nathan Drake in the games is a well-written character for a number of reasons. Firstly, his character is incredibly relatable and multi-dimensional. He is a treasure hunter who is often motivated by a desire for adventure and money, but also has a strong moral compass and a strong sense of justice. He is also a lovable rogue who is often quick to make jokes or lighten the mood in difficult situations. His relationships with his companions, such as his mentor Sully, are also well-written and the bond between the two is easy to understand. Finally, Drake’s inner struggles and personal journey are also well-written, making him a compelling character to follow. Unsurprisingly, the movie version has none of that. The filmmakers seems to be under the impression that if you put Holland in the same clothes as Nathan wears in the games than, well, it’s the character. Why bother with personality?

As both Holland and Wahlberg are terribly miscast, their buddy chemistry is of course non-existent. The attempt to replicate their fun dialogues from the games fails miserably and is just cringe worthy. The characters as well as the plot lack any real depth or nuance. There’s nothing except cookie cutter and cliches.

A short fan film was made in 2018 with Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake. This 120 million dollar blockbuster movie doesn’t have even the tiniest sliver of effort that the low budget short fan film does. Many were disappointed that Nathan Fillion wasn’t cast in the big movie but while he’d certainly be much better than Holland, I’d say Fillion was way too old to play Nathan if the studio wanted to start a franchise.

Uncharted could have been a solid franchise of fun, adventure flicks. The Indiana Jones for today’s generation. Instead we got this pathetically uninspired, boring, generic, and fake garbage that the only thing missing is casting Dwayne Johnson to create a perfect Hollywood fast food diarrhoea.

Despite all this, the movie actually made some money in box office and it’s possible that it will get a sequel. So far, Sony hasn’t officially announced it and hopefully they never will. Instead the studio should reboot Uncharted with a competent director and a fitting cast to finally do the games justice. For now though just avoid this movie and go replay the games.